What's It Take To Become An FCC Commissioner?

from the say-the-right-things dept

Robert McDowell, the latest nominee to the FCC, went in front of the Senate Commerce Committee Thursday, and by all accounts looks to have sailed through. McDowell is an interesting nominee, not least of which because of his position with the trade group Comptel, which lobbies in favor of "competition" on behalf of small telecom providers -- and which argued against the recent Verizon-MCI and SBC-AT&T deals. In the hearings, McDowell assured senators that he would hold no bias in his rulings and votes, and would recuse himself from any issues with conflicts of interest. That's the admirable and ethical thing to do, but the implication seems to be that to become an FCC commissioner, you have to say you'll play ball with the big telcos. This isn't to slam McDowell even before he's been confirmed, far from it -- he describes himself as a friend of consumers and an advocate of competition, two things the current FCC needs. But it seems like he had to assure the Senate committee that he wasn't too friendly with those pesky smaller operators, and wouldn't stand too much in the way of companies running over consumers. It would have been refreshing had he gone in and said, "Yes, I've worked with smaller competitors and that work has highlighted regulatory issues like line sharing, where competition is being hampered and ultimately the consumer is being hurt," if for no other reason than to see the senators' reactions (or at least the reactions of the three that bothered to turn up). While it's hard to doubt McDowell's credentials and his past work with regards to telecom competition makes him look like a good candidate, it's a shame that apparently he has to play that down to get the job.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Karl, Mar 10th, 2006 @ 8:38am

    Think Tankers

    Lawyers and think-tank drones generally fight for whoever pays them. I highly doubt he'll be much of a champion for anything other than deregulation and the doling out of legislative gifts to AT&T. Someday, and I can dream damnit, we'll see a consumer advocate with a spine on that commision.

     

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  2.  
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    RevMike, Mar 10th, 2006 @ 9:00am

    Commisioners need to do their job

    Congress really sets the field, and the commissioners need to do their job as congress defines it. Assuming for a moment that his work as an advocate for the little guy accurately reflects his personal feelings, he still has to treat the big guys within the rules set by congress.

     

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  3.  
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    wolff000, Mar 10th, 2006 @ 9:10am

    Play Ball!

    It makes sense to play down things that a possible employer doesn't like. You wouldn't go into a job interview and tell a possible employer you love to drink and party all night. Even if that is a huge part of your life and doesn't hamper your work ,it would keep you from getting the job. Hopefully this guy keeps fighting for us and not the big telcos all though dollar signs often cloud vision of good people; only time will tell.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Michael, Mar 10th, 2006 @ 9:37am

    Re: Play Ball!

    Did someone mention doller signs? Where?! Gimme!

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    The Other Mike, Mar 10th, 2006 @ 10:10am

    When in Rome...

    In politics you say what needs to be said at the moment in the most non-committal way you can get by with, so that you can still do as you see fit later and point to the wiggle room you left yourself.

    They were all just doing the same dance we've seen done before I suppose. The context of it may change but the net result doesn't. That's the sad part to me.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Scott, Mar 10th, 2006 @ 10:15am

    Re: Play Ball!

    I agree, had he went in talking about that stuff like "issues like line sharing", the big Telco's would have lobbied him right out of contention for the job.

     

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  7.  
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    Karl, Mar 10th, 2006 @ 11:30am

    Re: Play Ball!

    I'm telling you, the second he gets under the thumb of the GOP on that panel, he's doing absolutely nothing he's not told to. Deregulate, deregulate, deregulate. Net-Neutrali-wha? Even if somewhere deep down he does have a soft-spot for CLECs, the most we'll see is a tersely worded press release (like Copps) suggesting why the issue he just voted yes on was a bad idea.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Karl, Mar 10th, 2006 @ 11:33am

    Re: Play Ball!

    Here: http://www.fmqb.com/Article.asp?id=185040 "McDowell told the "sparsely attended" committee that his main concerns are encouraging competition between communications companies, removing barriers for communications firms and letting the private sector have more involvement in the industry." Translated: Help the bells get into the IPTV business, deregulate, and do nothing about the banning of municipal broadband endeavors.

     

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  9.  
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    The Other Mike, Mar 10th, 2006 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Play Ball!

    Yeah that evil GOP always going and taking away that socialistic monopoly that is the hallmark of freedom around the world.

    Seriously, I am not for one side or the other but is this place perma-linked on some liberal blog or something? All I hear is GOP/Bush bashing in nearly every single comment thread. Someone call PETA because that dead horse is getting some serious abuse.

    I very seriously doubt I am the only one who doesn't even read comments half the time anymore.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Karl, Mar 10th, 2006 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Play Ball!

    "All I hear is GOP/Bush bashing in nearly every single comment thread." I wonder why that is? Can't possibly be his miserable performance as a leader. Must be a liberal cabal! Good eye!

     

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  11.  
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    Derick, Mar 10th, 2006 @ 6:21pm

    Regulatory Capture

    He's a mole for Omnicorp.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    The Other Mike, Mar 10th, 2006 @ 10:14pm

    Re: Re: Play Ball!

    Ahh yes. Thanks for demonstrating that intelligence level I was just discussing. Blind hatred only makes you feel worse. Nobody else cares. Life goes on and apparently lots of readers will start to also. In fact I think I will join that bandwagon. Adios.

    BTW, I voted blue twice before I voted red, so you can't say that I am a fanboy of either side. Just a rational thinker tired of haters. All you need is a hood and many around here would fit in at some rallies with the blind hatred they display.

     

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  13.  
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    mark, Mar 11th, 2006 @ 3:31pm

    He's the type of character I just cringe at the idea of regulating radio spectrum. There are more qualifications for users of spectrum than who can pay the most. I still can't figure out how the gov't thinks it can sell what it doesn't own anyway....oh wait, ask a Native American!

     

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